If you’re reading this column, first off, thanks (I have low self esteem); and secondly, I’m sure you’re well aware of the folks at Mondo and the work that they do (like, for instance, starting the collector poster boom we all find ourselves currently living in). Maybe you didn’t know that Mondo has its own art gallery, located in its headquarters (and the headquarters of “cool”, in general) of Austin, Texas. Well, they do, and it’s awesome. Continuing the trend of all around awesomeness, Mondo has announced that on August 23rd, it’ll be hosting a solo art exhibition for one of its favorite artists, Jason Edmiston. The show is called “A Rogues Gallery,” and contains pieces inspired by Jason’s favorite cinematic “baddies”.
Here’s a couple Art Snob exclusive preview images from the show. Prepare to feast your eyes:
“Leatherface: Good Skin”- acrylic on wood panel, 11 X 14
“F-13 Unmasked: Pre Game”- Screen Print, 18 X 14 in an edition of 100.
To take you deeper inside the exhibition, I was lucky enough to get to ask Jason a few questions about his upcoming show, and the art world in general.
Matt Cohen: Your first solo art exhibition is set to debut in just a few days time at the Mondo Gallery. What does this mean to you as an artist?
Jason Edmiston: This is perhaps the biggest thing to ever happen for me, professionally. When I was at art school, thinking about what I wanted to achieve as a working artist, having a solo gallery show was at the top of the list. I didn’t think it was even likely, as I was still developing my style and lived in Canada, before the age of social networking. I knew I had to pick up my game skill-wise and start to promote myself relentlessly if I ever wanted to show in a gallery as part of a group show, let alone one built entirely around my creations. This is a huge deal for me, and it’s the fruit of everything that I’ve worked at, 50-60 hours a week, for 15 years.
MC: Speaking of Mondo, which pretty much put the newly emerged “collector poster” market on the map, what is your take on the current state of the industry and the overwhelming demand for such art?
JE: I think it’s about time. Trust me, I’ve been hungry for this type of collectible since I was old enough to draw. I’ve always thought there was a hole in the market, where higher quality art-based prints and posters based around movie properties and pop culture should exist. After the golden age of illustration and the hand-painted movie posters up to the 1980’s, technology was introduced, and destroyed art. What we got after that period were photo-manipulated head shots, and cookie-cutter design. The desire to create cheaper, easily editable images replaced design, and style, and personal vision. Look what happen to the popularity (from the studio’s position) of artists like Drew Struzan, or Bob Peak, or Boris Vallejo.
But art fans like me didn’t forget. We were hungry for that type of expression, still. I believe the demand is just the industry realizing that these fans didn’t go away, they were laying in wait. Companies like Mondo that make a good product and charge a reasonable amount for it will be rewarded with loads of fans. It also doesn’t hurt, that in my opinion, Mondo has the best art direction (and artistic taste) in the business. I consider myself very fortunate that they have warmed to my particular style.
MC: Your show “A Rogues Gallery” features your interpretations of famous villains from popular film culture. What inspired you to pick this as a theme to work with?
JE: I’ve always been drawn towards the villains from movies. These characters act without guilt or remorse. They do as they wish, at the expense of everything else. They act as I would want to sometimes, and to me this is fantasy wish fulfillment. They also have more charisma compared to the heroes of the film. They have more interesting costumes, better hangouts, and usually more power than the good guys. These factors make them very attractive as subject matter for my work.
MC: What are some of the stand-out pieces from the show, that mean the most to you personally?
JE: I would say probably the Jason screen prints. There are two prints in the show based on Friday the 13th Part 3: an unmasked Jason Voorhees, and a masked one. The images are very similar, as if they were snapshots taken seconds apart, based on the “birth” of the hockey mask Jason (if you don’t know, the Crystal Lake killer donned the mask for the first time after killing a camper in part 3). To me, these prints signify the birth of my love of the horror genre. I saw Friday the 13th on TV for the first time when I was in grade 4 or 5 (my parents were pretty liberal), and the thrill I got from that moment stuck with me. I never turned back. I drew Freddy Krueger, and rented VHS copies of Texas Chainsaw Massacre before I was old enough to see them in the theatre (Leatherface is another piece for the show, but it is an acrylic painting). There are also a couple of Universal Monsters paintings that I am adding to my portrait series that began last year at the Mondo Universal group show. The Wolf Man has already been teased. I’d love to continue this series with all the big classic monsters.
MC: Are there any villains you didn’t get a chance to work with in this show that you’d like to create a piece for in the future?
JE: Yes, for sure. The original show list was 40 or so long, and didn’t make the cut due to time constraints. I’ll get to them in the future. Some notables are Johnny Lawrence (Karate Kid), Mr. Han (Enter the Dragon), and Kim Jong Il (Team America: World Police).
MC: What are some other themes you’d like to explore, in further solo work?
JE: I’ve already got my next theme figured out, and it is pop culture-based, but not just movies. Every aspect of popular icons. Their interpretation will be unlike anything created before. That’s all I can say. Other than that, I’d like to stick with figurative work, but I’d like to explore more general themes, and inject much more abstraction with my forms. I love what artists like Dan Quintana, Damon Soule, and James Jean are doing these days.
MC: Lastly, who is your favorite all time movie villain?
JE: Gotta be Freddy Krueger. The most personality ever, the most iconic costume, and he can shape-shift into infinite versions of himself.